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Guiding Lights

Recent research suggests that, all over the world, many people might be modeling themselves after characters on soap operas—and that it's a good thing that they are. "Soaps, it turns out, are shaping behavior in ways that are subtle, profound and, from the standpoint of global development experts, positive," writes Drake Bennett. "A team of economists credits Brazilian TV ”novelas” for helping to dramatically lower a fertility rate that in 1960 was above six births per woman. Others have found that in India—where soaps dominate the airwaves—villages where people watch more TV give more responsibilities and rights to women and girls. ... And research in the United States has found that health tips tucked into soaps have greater sticking power than with just about any other mode of transmission."
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